Twenty-seven different states, the District of Columbia and Canada are all represented on Notre Dame’s 2017 roster. A 28th state was lost when junior backup center Tristen Hoge, from Idaho, decided at the end of spring to transfer to BYU.
Which states combine the most quantity and quality on this year's Notre Dame roster? Including walk-ons, here is the breakdown of the volume and potential star power.
1. Illinois (16) — The Chicago area always has been an excellent pipeline and this year includes senior Nyles Morgan and sophomore Julian Love at linebacker and cornerback, respectively. Junior Myles Boykin made a conspicuous ascent this spring at receiver while senior Nic Weishar provides quality depth at tight end and junior Trevor Ruhland could become a needed figure in place of Hoge. Sophomore John Shannon is projected to be the starting long-snapper the next four seasons.
Incoming recruits Isaiah Robertson at safety and Cole Kmet at tight end — and also an ace southpaw pitcher — arrive with fine credentials, and Robertson already showcased some of it this spring as an early entrant who will legitimately challenge for action beyond special teams.
2. Florida (10) — Sophomores Devin Studstill and Kevin Stepherson played major roles last year at safety and receiver, respectively, but had challenging springs while vying for playing time.
Sophomore Tony Jones Jr., and junior Dexter Williams will compete for carries in the backfield, while linebacker returns junior Te’von Coney (fourth in tackles last year with 62) at Buck and sophomore Jonathan Jones behind Morgan at Mike.
3. Ohio (9) — The Irish failed to land any scholarship player from the Buckeye State this spring (althugh safety Patrick Pelini from Youngstown, son of Youngstown State head coach Bo Pelini, will be a preferred walk-on), but it will still be crucial to Notre Dame’s 2017 fortunes.
Sophomore offensive tackles Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg have excellent football careers ahead of them, and junior wideout/return man Chris Finke can provide a spark. What will better determine this state’s contributions this year is how well defenseman such as senior Daniel Cage and junior Elijah Taylor along the line and junior Shaun Crawford in the secondary recovery from significant injury issues. Junior safety Nick Coleman came out of nowhere this spring to earn a possible starting role.
4. California (11) — Defense has been tougher to recruit for Notre Dame in the Golden State, but the receiving corps with Equanimeous St. Brown, CJ Sanders and Javon McKinley provides a nucleus that could star at many schools. St. Brown already is considered one of the nation's top targets. Even senior walk-on wideout Austin Webster was elected a team captain this year, although it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s placed on scholarship this summer or during training camp.
A vital dark horse could be sophomore backup quarterback Ian Book. All one has to do is look back at 2015 and 2012 regarding how much a reserve QB can play a role to help save a season.
5. New Jersey (4) — We gave the Garden State the slightest of edge over neighboring Pennsylvania, which is led by fifth-year left tackle Mike McGlinchey and junior running back Josh Adams.
What is so crucial with New Jersey that gave it the nod is the presence of senior All-American guard Quenton Nelson and junior starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush, upon whom so much rests. Defensively, senior end Andrew Trumbetti’s 62 career tackles are the most among the returning linemen, and his pass-rushing ability to complement sophomore Daelin Hayes (from Michigan) will be essential.